THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (2004) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (2004) BASED ON THE 1910 BOOK OF THE SAME NAME BY GASTON LEROUX AND ALSO ON ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER’S 1986 MUSICAL OF THE SAME NAME.

DIRECTED BY JOEL SCHUMACHER.

PRODUCED BY ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER.

SCREENPLAY BY ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER AND JOEL SCHUMACHER.

STARRING GERARD BUTLER, EMMY ROSSUM, PATRICK WILSON, CIARAN HINDS, SIMON CALLOW, KEVIN MCNALLY, MIRANDA RICHARDSON, MINNIE DRIVER AND JENNIFER ELLISON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Keep your hand at the level of your eyes.’

This is one of my favourite musicals, next to CABARET!, WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and OLIVER! I can’t think of any others just at the moment, except for maybe THE SOUND OF MUSIC and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.

It’s the film version of music genius Andrew Lloyd Webber’s fantastic stage musical from 1986, and it’s absolutely bursting at the seams with vibrant colours, luxurious settings, magnificently opulent flower arrangements and costumes that are literally to die for, they’re so fabulous. It would take the sight out of your eyes, as we say here in Ireland, it’s such a glorious spectacle.

And the hilariously witty lyrics and songs are just terrific, and the storyline is sooooo sad, as you will probably remember from previous re-tellings of the story, the best of which is of course the Lon Chaney silent version from 1925. Just in case there’s any confusion, this 1925 film version is the best of all the film versions, including this 2004 musical adaptation of which I’m speaking so highly today. But this musical might well run a close second.

You know the story, of course. The beautiful young singer/chorus girl, Christine Daae of the Paris Opera, has been secretly trained by a mysterious voice she calls ‘the Angel of Music,’ which we know is actually the Phantom of the Opera, or the Opera Ghost, or the anonymous occupant of Box Five, someone who has lived in the dark, winding bowels of the Opera House for most of his lonely life.

Gerard Butler plays the hideously scarred Phantom, who wears a mask to conceal his ruined visage as much as to hide his identity. Some people, like Miranda Richardson’s Madame Giry, the ballet trainer, aid and abet him in his often funny communiques with the management of the opera, amusingly played by Ciaran Hinds and Simon Callow.

For example, the Phantom insists on being paid a ‘salary’ for his trouble, and is no slouch at reminding his ‘employers’ when they are late with payment of same! He also demands of them that they keep Box Five free for his private use during all performances. Looks like someone’s been consulting pgs. 77 and 142 of the Union of Phantoms’ rule book…

The Phantom has been training the exceptionally submissive and malleable Christine Daae to be the principal singer of the Paris Opera. But the Paris Opera already has a principal singer, a super-spoiled diva in the form of Minnie Driver’s beautifully costumed Carlotta, so the Phantom will have to make it impossible for Carlotta to sing the lead if he wants his precious little protegee to be Numero Uno in the tra-la-la stakes…

The Phantom has another little niggle to contend with, and it’s a wee bit trickier than just making sure that Christine reaches the dizziest of dizzy heights as the Opera House’s premiere chanteuse. Christine, played by Emmy Rossum who looks like a cross between Angelina Jolie and queen of the period drama, Jane Seymour, has another admirer, by Jove, what the Phantom ain’t too pleased about, see?

Yes, folks, and you’ll never guess who plays the Comte Raoul de Chagny, Christine’s devoted admirer and lover! That’s right, it’s Patrick Wilson, who goes on to play the part of Vera Farmiga’s handsome hubby and baby-daddy and fellow ghostbuster in the CONJURING and ANNABELLE films. You’ll hardly recognise him here, with his gorgeous long floppy hair and a pretty damn good singing voice to boot.

You’ll love the underground part of the Opera House, in which the Ghost has made himself comfortable, with an underground lake, ‘room for a pony,’ a la Hyacinth Bucket, a portcullis and various security measures that ensure that the Phantom sees you a lot sooner than you see him.

He has also booby-trapped the shit out of the place so that he can feel safe in his realm, but God help anyone who wanders down there without knowing the lay-out and the pitfalls, which would be most people, if not all people. No wonder Madame Giry more or less says to Raoul at one point, this is as far as I dare go, you’re on your own, bud…!

But is it horribly unreasonable of the Phantom to expect the attractive, talented and vibrant Christine to spend most of her young life beneath the Opera House with him, living and sleeping in the dark and almost never coming up for air or a taste of the rich, varied human life of Paris?

She feels a deep debt to him, and pity for what he is, but pity and indebtedness are very different from love, if you see what I mean. What will the curly-headed songstress decide to do…? (PS, she does look sexually blissed-out when the Phantom touches her and sings to her, so maybe that sexual attraction could help sustain an underground relationship/marriage after all…?)

Such a spectacular, visually stunning film, sandwiched between two black-and-white bits featuring the Comte de Chagny and Madame Giry in ‘old-face,’ as they attend an auction of memorabilia from the ruined Opera House’s hey-day and the Comte goes to visit Christine’s grave in the snow.

Jennifer Ellison from BROOKSIDE as Madame Giry’s ballerina daughter Meg is not strictly necessary to the plot, but she has lovely blonde hair and big fake (I think!) bazookas which look adorably bouncy in the little low-cut ballet dress, so, for those reasons possibly, she was left in, lol. Little Emily Shadwick offa Brookie is possibly the last person you’d expect to see in any version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, but there you go. Boobs are a key that opens many doors…

  AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET. (2007) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET. (2007) DIRECTED BY TIM BURTON.
BASED ON SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, THE MUSICAL, BY STEPHEN SONDHEIM AND HUGH WHEELER.
STARRING JOHHNY DEPP, HELENA BONHAM CARTER, ALAN RICKMAN, TIMOTHY SPALL AND SACHA BARON COHEN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I only saw this film for the first time recently, and was blown away by it, even though I’d been expecting to find it annoying after hearing that there was singing in it, lol. But the singing is fantastic, and so is pretty much everything else about this film based on a musical that in turn was based on a Victorian legend.

It’s the legend of the titular Sweeney Todd, the barber of old London who slits his customers’ throats and trapdoor-s the corpses deep down below into his girlfriend’s pie shop, where the flesh is baked into some of the ‘worst pies in London.’ Quite a neat little scam, though how they expected to get away with such a bold scheme indefinitely is a mystery to me.

Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd, formerly the barber Benjamin Barker, returns to London in 1846, after spending fifteen long years in exile in Australia, even though he’d committed no crime. The evil Judge Turpin, played by Alan Rickman, had him sent there on a pretext, purely so that he could put the moves on Sweeney Todd’s beautiful wife, Lucy…

Now Lucy is dead, and her and Sweeney Todd’s daughter Johanna is Turpin’s captive. He’s basically waiting till she’s old enough to take her as his wife, then she’ll be lost to her father, Sweeney Todd, forever…

Sweeney Todd, played bitterly and broodingly by the great Johnny Depp, teams up with Helena Bonham Carter as his literal soulmate, his perfect other half, the missing piece of the puzzle, one Mrs. Lovett who runs the pie shop. Helena Bonham Carter, by the way, was born to dress this way and play this kind of role. She’s practically perfick for it.

As the film is very faithful to the source material, Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett do exactly what I mentioned in an earlier paragraph: he slashes his customers ‘froats,’ as they say in London, then she bakes their nice juicy flesh into her pies in the bakehouse below.

They are assisted in this grisly work by local urchin, the highly Dickensian Tobias Ragge. He’s the former employee of one of Sweeney’s rival barbers, the faux-Italian Adolfo Pirelli. Wonderfully played by comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen, Pirelli finds out what it means to incur the wrath of Sweeney Todd and end up in a trunk with yer froat cut and yer features re-arranged by forty whacks with a boiling kettle…

Business for both the barber and the pie shop goes really well for a time, and it’s not long before Sweeney gets a crack at swiping a cut-throat razor across the manly jaw and chin of the hanging Judge, the whipping Judge, the nefarious Judge Turpin, and also that of the Judges’ toady and yes-man, the rat-faced Beadle Bamford, marvellously played by Timothy Spall.

There’s also a lovesick young man looking to rescue Johanna, Sweeney Todd’s daughter, from the clutches of Judge Turpin, who has placed his beloved ward in an insane asylum for refusing to marry him. But we won’t worry too much about that.

It’s much more interesting to watch the dead-inside Sweeney Todd interact with Mrs. Lovett, who’s pining away with unrequited love for him. Does she deserve her truly awful fate…? The movie’s not an 18s for nuffink, folks…

A suitably dark, brooding and heavy atmosphere hangs over London town the whole time. I also have a question, and this never occurred to me before: Did the female inmates of the insane asylums have their hair butchered against their will by the orderlies and sold to the wig-makers, to whom real, natural hair is always a boon and a bonus…? Just one of many violations of their human rights, I reckon.

The song lyrics are so funny and well-written, even razor-sharp if you’ll excuse the pun, and Depp and Bonham Carter can’t half sing! The costumes and grim settings are fabulous too, and, as is evidenced in nearly every attempt to film the Victorian era, the class differences between the rich and poor stand out a mile.

As a poor person, you can get hung for stealing a loaf of bread, or sent to Australia, branded a convict and a wrong ‘un forever, just because some high-faluting Judge has the hots for your wife. Well, I suppose, as in the case of Sweeney Todd, you can always come back and get revenge. Even revenge set to music. All together now: ‘It’s a hard knock life… for us…’

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv

A STAR IS BORN. (2018) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


A STAR IS BORN. (2018) BASED ON THE ORIGINAL SCRIPT (1937) BY WILLIAM A. WELLMAN, DOROTHY PARKER, ROBERT CARSON AND ALAN CAMPBELL. ALSO BASED ON THE 1954 AND 1976 SCREENPLAYS OF THE SAME NAME.
DIRECTED BY BRADLEY COOPER.
STARRING LADY GAGA, BRADLEY COOPER, SAM ELLIOTT, RAFI GAVRON AND DAVE CHAPELLE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This romantic musical drama is a fuckin’ brilliant and gripping film, despite the fact that every second fuckin’ word in it is the fuckin’ ‘F’ word. Still, who am I to fuckin’ complain? I’m not a fuckin’ rock star. The music is out of this word, the love story is all too believable and the acting is top-notch.

I’ve previously watched and enjoyed the 1954 version of the film starring Judy Garland and James Mason, but I actually think this modern re-make is better, and I hardly ever say that about any film, ever. That’s how impressive this modern adaptation is.

It’s the story of a young, ballsy American woman called Ally, beautifully played by Lady Gaga, who works as a waitress to make her living, but she also has a phenomenal talent as a singer-songwriter.

Despite this fact, she’s still a nobody as far as the world at large is concerned. Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air, and all that. Thomas Gray wrote that, by the way. It’s a line from his poem, Elegy in a Country Churchyard.

Ally does have one outlet for her amazing creativity, however. One night a week, she gets to sing in a local drag club. On this one night in particular, guess who just happens to stagger in with the intention of getting loaded, as he does every night? It’s none other than Jackson Maine, who’s just about the biggest country/rock star on the whole frickin’ planet…

He falls in love with both Ally and her fabulous voice and stage presence when she does an absolutely riveting performance of Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose. Yep, the girl can sing in fluent French, too, and while lying flat on her back on the bar-top! Jackson is besotted with Ally from the moment he sets eyes on her.

The pair spend one of those once-in-a-lifetime special nights together, the night- before the sex happens- where you talk non-stop about your hopes and dreams and, in their case, the music they love and their songs and song-writing processes. The sex comes later, lol. And you only ever have this kind of night with someone you want to sleep with. Without the physical attraction, this kind of ‘you’re my soulmate’ connection simply wouldn’t happen. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about here.

Ally’s feet hardly touch the ground after this wonderful night. Before she knows what’s hit her, really, she finds herself being swept off her feet by the whole Jackson Maine circus. They quickly become a couple, and he’s so encouraging of her music that he even pulls her up on stage with him one night to sing the now-famous song, Shallow. It’s a stunning performance that quickly sees Ally becoming a star in her own right.

What she doesn’t know at the outset- even though Jackson is drunk when they meet- is that Jackson is a motherless alcoholic and drug-addict with Daddy issues. He also has a rapidly worsening hearing problem that has grave ramifications for his music career. In short, he’s a mess.

Without even noticing it at first, Ally slips automatically into the role of his mother/problem-solver/caretaker/cleaner-upper-after/excuses-maker and enabler, on the occasions when his lovely, endlessly patient older brother Bobby isn’t around to do these things for him and fill these roles.

Ally’s star is on the rise while Jackson’s is on the wane. Jackson’s behaviour when he’s drinking and snorting cocaine is out of control. Things come to a drastic head at an awards ceremony, where a pissed-as-a-newt Jackson commits an act of social inappropriateness that would make James Mason’s character in the 1954 film blush like a tomato.

Rehab rears its head, but is it too late for a depressed and downhearted Jackson? And what about his marriage to Ally? (Yep, they get hitched!) How can it survive Jackson’s extreme jealousy of his wife’s stardom and the insecurities that make him lash out cruelly at Ally’s weak points?

Her producer and manager Rez thinks that Ally would be better off without Jackson. He’s bringing her down, he’s like a millstone round her neck that threatens to de-rail her astronomic rise to fame if she’s not careful. Even Jackson’s greatest support, his big brother Bobby, is forced to take a back seat from Jackson’s addictions and dangerous behaviour when it becomes too much to bear.

What will become of the newly-weds? Is theirs a whirlwind romance doomed to bitter failure, or can things sink even lower than that…? It will take all of Ally’s courage and determination, which she has in spades, to get through these dark days. Lady Gaga is an excellent actress as well as one hell of a chanteuse, and she carries all before her as the troubled Ally.

The film accurately depicts the relationship where one of the parties is an addict and the other slips unwittingly into the role of enabler, before they finally wake up to what they’re doing and they either give the addict an ultimatum- clean up your act or I walk- or they leave, with the sad realisation that they are not responsible for the happiness of another. Great fuckin’ story, great fuckin’ acting, great fuckin’ music. That’s about it, really.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG. (1968) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

chitty childcatcher

IAN FLEMING’S (Yes, THAT Ian Fleming…!) CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG. (1968) DIRECTED BY KEN HUGHES. MUSIC AND LYRICS BY RICHARD M. SHERMAN AND ROBERT B. SHERMAN. SCREENPLAY BY ROALD DAHL AND KEN HUGHES.

STARRING DICK VAN DYKE, SALLY ANN HOWES, ADRIAN HALL, HEATHER RIPLEY, GERT FROBE, ANNA QUAYLE, LIONEL JEFFRIES, JAMES ROBERTSON JUSTICE, ROBERT HELPMANN, BARBARA WINDSOR AND BENNY HILL.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Aw, this family musical is a real Christmas cracker, or a cracker for any other time of the year you care to name as well. I remember watching this during childhood Christmases and being terrified by the evil Child-Catcher, enchanted by the real-life ‘dolls’ performing at the awful Baron Bomburst’s birthday and mildly annoyed by the repetitive nature of the theme song, lol. Here’s the deal, anyway.

The oddly-named Caractacus Potts (we’ll call him Pottsy here!) is a crackpot English inventor in either the late Victorian era or the early Whatever-Came-After-That era. He’s tolerably good-looking- not hideous, at any rate- and he’s a widow with two perfect little pre-teen Aryan youths for children. Well, excuse me but could they be any blonder?

Jemima and Jeremy are allowed to skip school and run wild around the English countryside dressed in rags, while their inventor father spends hours closeted in his laboratory tinkering about with the mechanics of yet another Truly hare-brained scheme. See what I did there? Their cut-glass accents can be a tad irritating (Oh Deddy Deddy, we DO love you so and all that type of thing) but they’re basically good kids, just badly in need of a mother. And a bath and a square meal.

A potential mother hoves into view in the form of the beautiful and divinely-dressed Truly Scrumptious, a wealthy young local lady who almost runs the young’uns down in her splendiferous motorised vehicle. She’s horrified to see the children dressed like ragged urchins and endangering themselves and the public on the good decent English highways and byways.

She comes home with the children to give Pottsy a piece of her mind. Why aren’t these children at school and so on and so forth. Pottsy sends her away with a flea in her ear. Mind your own business, young lady, these are my children and I’ll sorely neglect their moral and educational upbringing as I see fit or words to that effect. Now be off with you at once, young woman, or I’ll turn you into, erm, marzipan. That’s it, marzipan. Harrumph!

The gorgeous young lady turns out to be Truly Scrumptious of the wildly successful Scrumptious Family Sweetie Emporium, however, and the daughter of its wildly eccentric owner. (Not as wildly eccentric as Pottsy’s father, however, who can’t forget the time he was a soldier- and a brigadier’s batman- in India.)

This is awkward for Pottsy as he’s just invented a new sweet he wants to flog to Poppa Scrumptious, a stick of whistling candy that has the family dog’s seal of approval. Woof woof! Truly generously gives Pottsy tips on how to handle her brusquely-mannered father and, from then on, a beautiful friendship is born and Truly and the Potts family are as thick as thieves together.

Truly and Pottsy are deeply, truly attracted to each other. The attraction on Pottsy’s part is simple to understand, as Truly is a stunning bit of stuff who wears fabulous dresses and likes to be independent and speak her mind, which quality makes men thinks that chicks are feisty, see? Men love feisty women, or so I’m told. They never seem to like it when I get feisty…

The attraction that Pottsy holds for Truly is obvious too. There isn’t a woman alive who wouldn’t be drawn to a lonely widower with two lovely motherless children. Her desire to be a mother to the sproglets and a comfort and a helpmeet to their poor dear father is simply overwhelming. It over-rides all other desires.

Let’s just hope that Pottsy makes a better husband than he does an inventor. His Automatic Hair-Cutting Machine that leaves the user looking like that guy out of The Three Stooges is worse than Homer Simpson’s make-up gun that shoots women in the face with their daily requirement of cosmetics. CARRY ON star Barbara Windsor features in the hair-cutting section as the little blonde bombshell girlfriend of the poor bastard being so brutally barbered.

Danger strikes the little quartet, anyway, Pottsy and Truly and the kiddiewinks, when the awful Baron Bomburst of the little European monarchy of Vulgaria decides he wants to get his royal mitts on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This is the old vintage car lovingly restored by Pottsy at the kids’ behest. Oh Deddy Deddy please, you’ve got to save our precious automobile from the knackers’ yard and all that jazz.

Two nutty emissaries of the Baron’s kidnap Pottsy’s Dad and spirit him away in a hot-air balloon. They mistakenly believe him to be his son Caractacus, the eccentric British inventor whose magical car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is able to float and fly.

Pottsy, Truly and the kids duly hop into Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and fly to Vulgaria to save Grandpa Potts from a grisly fate at the hands of the Baron. Vulgaria is a very strange Kingdom indeed where no children are allowed because the Baron’s wife, the Baroness, is afraid of the sticky-fingered little blighters.

All the Kingdom’s children have to live in a gloomy underground cavern and the Child-Catcher, the terrifying but brilliant star of the whole shebang, is the guy who’ll catch any new kiddy-winks who turn up in town and sling ’em int’ chokey.

He captures Jeremy and Jemima neatly in his net with his blood-chilling cries of ‘Lollipops! Get your free lollipops and ice-cream here, and all free today, and not a penny to pay…!’ Kids are such dopes, lol. Imagine falling for that line. Oldest trick in the book, that is.

One good shove and they’re in the van, off to some place grim and grey from which they’ll never escape and, more importantly, from where their precious Deddy Deddy can’t spring ’em. (We hope, snigger. Serves ’em right, the headstrong, wilful brats. Maybe a spell in the Child-Catcher’s van will teach ’em that the world’s not their own personal bloody playground. Humph.)

So now Pottsy and Truly have a mammoth task on their hands. They have to rescue both Grandpa, who by now is gloriously immersed in growing ‘the roses of success,’ and the nippers from the Baron’s Guards, and then get themselves and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the hell out of Vulgaria before ze wicked Baron has them killed and made into cushion-covers.

And some would say that they now have a moral obligation to help the captured children and the oppressed downtrodden inhabitants of Vulgaria as well, now that they’ve seen what goes on there.

And especially as Pottsy has already crooned his Hushabye Mountain ditty to the kids in the underground cavern and given ’em a semblance of hope. You can’t sing that at ’em and then just bugger off with a ta-ra then, chuck. It wouldn’t be right.

Benny Hill the comedian is excellent as the Toymaker who can only make toys for the spoiled-brat Baron now that all the children of Vulgaria are imprisoned. My favourite bit of the film, next to the scary Child-Catcher scenes, is when Truly and Pottsy perform for ze Baron on his birthday as real-life, life-sized dolls. I always loved Truly’s song the best. ‘What do you see, you people gazing at me? You see a doll on a music box that’s wound by a key.’ She makes a Truly Beautiful Doll.

When Pottsy reacts the wrong way near the end of the film to the kids’ suggestion that he marry Truly, I always want to bonk him on the head with one of his stupid inventions. What a wuss.

The woman’s been to hell and back for him and his rugrats and he’s balking at the idea of marriage. You dope, Caractacus. She’s gagging for a ring. Give the lady what she wants. It’s simpler in the long run to just surrender now. You know she’ll get you in the end…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

 

THE SOUND OF MUSIC. (1965) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

sound of music

RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S THE SOUND OF MUSIC. (1965) DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY ROBERT WISE. BASED ON THE MEMOIRS OF MARIA VON TRAPP. MUSIC AND LYRICS BY RICHARD RODGERS (MUSIC) AND OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN THE SECOND (LYRICS).

STARRING JULIE ANDREWS, CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, RICHARD HAYDN, PEGGY WOOD AND ELEANOR PARKER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,

Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens,

Brown paper packages tied up with strings,

These are a few of my favourite things.

………………………………………………….

When the dog bites and the bee stings

And I’m feeling sad

I simply remember my favourite things

And then I don’t feel so bad.’

The sight of a nun with a guitar gives me the willies, straight up. Reminds me of Fourth Year in secondary school when Sister Assumpta, nicknamed ‘Stumpy’ for her lack of height inches, tried to teach me to play the guitar after school. After only two lessons, I was expelled forever from these after-school jamborees for Crimes Against Music. Well, we can’t all be good at everything. Music’s loss was writing’s gain, lol.

Anyway, there’s a nun with a guitar in the multi-award-winning THE SOUND OF MUSIC, set in the last days of the 1930s. Her name is Maria, she’s wonderfully played by Julie Andrews and she’s a source of constant frustration to the other nuns in the convent. Let’s just say she’s a little, well, different.

She sings all the time, not just in church, she’s late to everything- except meals- and she’s as scatty as a dotty old professor of physics who wastes a morning looking for the spectacles that were on his head the whole time.

Furthermore, she’s always up in the hills where she was brought up, singing and twirling and twirling and singing and generally acting like she’s taken leave of her remaining senses altogether.

The kindly and extraordinarily understanding Reverend Mother of this lovely little convent in Austria is convinced that Maria is not quite ready to take her final vows as a nun. She thinks that Maria hasn’t quite made up her mind what she wants to do with her life and she thinks that the girl might benefit from a spell back out in the world outside the convent walls once more.

With this in mind, she sends Maria to the Salzburg home of one Captain Von Trapp, a widowed and much decorated sea captain who is in urgent need of a governess for his seven children. Maria will be this governess. Off she duly repairs to the Captain’s magnificent abode.

She’s immediately struck by the tall, handsome and autocratic bearing of the Captain (Christopher Plummer), but she’s less impressed by the rather cold, super-regulated way that he treats his children as if they were little sailors under his command at sea. They march instead of play, they wear uniforms instead of normal kiddy clothes and they jump to attention when the Captain blows his shrill whistle.

Where’s the love? Where’s the heart? Where’s the music, the singing and dancing and, God forbid, the fun? The Captain does love his children very much but he seems unable to show them this love. Certainly it’s hidden beneath layers and layers of strict, in fact rigid, naval-style discipline, timetables, constant drilling and whistles. Always with the whistles.

Maria sets out to bring the heart, the music and the fun back to the sad Von Trapp household. Such things have been practically banned from the household by the Captain, because they remind him of his late wife and the pain of his bereavement.

That’s all well and good for Georg (inexplicably pronounced not as George but as Gay-org with two hard ‘g’s), but it’s surely a bit unfair on his children, isn’t it? After all, they lost their mother, didn’t they? Should they lose everything else that’s good and nice and fun in life as well?

The children, ranging from sixteen-going-on-seventeen-year-old Liesl to five-year-old Gretl, with Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta and Marta in between, all adore Maria and are more than willing to help her to restore the fun and games to their heretofore excessively regimented lives. With Maria encouraging them, they play to their hearts’ content, they sing and dance and run and climb trees and fall in the lake and get filthy dirty and soaking wet as kids are meant to do.

The Captain, though he won’t admit it, is enchanted by Maria, by the way she dispenses with rules and silly whistles and just whole-heartedly throws herself into loving the children and being there for them in a way that previous governesses were unable to comprehend.

There’s an immediate attraction between the two adults that quite flusters Maria and flummoxes the Captain. Who knows if they’d have ever done anything about it if it hadn’t been for a fly in the ointment in the form of the marriage-minded Baroness Schraeder? Marriage-minded for herself and the Captain, that is, not for Maria and the Captain, goodness me no. This one’s purely all out for Number One. 

The Baroness is the Captain’s girlfriend at first and then his fiancée. The children and Maria are deeply unhappy at the thought of the Captain marrying the Baroness. She’s blonde, attractive, uber-sophisticated and super-rich, but she’s cold and superficial also and probably older than the Captain.

She knows very little about children (‘Have you ever heard of a marvellous invention called boarding school?’ she says slyly to family friend Uncle Max) but her worldly-wise eagle eyes spot immediately the mutual attraction between Gay-org and the couldn’t-be-less-sophisticated-if-she-tried Maria. I love it when the Baroness says to Maria:

‘Come on now love, we’re both women, who are ya kidding? Let us not pretend that we don’t notice it when a guy is making eyes at us.’ Or words to that effect…!

The Baroness isn’t the only fly in Gay-org and Maria’s ointment. It’s the time of Nazism and the Third Reich and Hitler has just Anschlussed Austria to Germany, much to the seeming delight of most of the Austrian populace. Well, they lined the streets of Austria cheering for Hitler’s troops and they carpeted the Nazis’ path with flowers, didn’t they?

Anyway, Gay-org is at least one Austrian who is virulently opposed to Nazism and he’s brave enough to speak his mind on the subject. When, by virtue of his status as a naval war hero and his naval expertise, he’s given an important commission in the navy of the Third Reich, he finds himself with only two hard choices.

He can accept the commission for the sake of his family’s safety, but to go along with Nazi beliefs and ideology would sicken his stomach. Or he can throw the commission back in Hitler’s (represented locally by Gauleiter Herr Zeller) face and risk bringing the wrath of the powerful Third Reich down on his own and his childrens’- and Maria’s- heads. What to do? Richer men than he, who might have thought they were safe by virtue of their position, probably fell afoul of Hitler’s terrible regime…

The scenery and the songs are to die for. The hills are alive with the sound of music indeed. I love the clever lyrics and puppetry of ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ and I cried my eyes out when Gay-org sang ‘Edelweiss,’ with the poignant last line of ‘Bless my homeland forever,’ at Uncle Max’s precious folk music festival.

The Reverend Mother is an absolute boss when she belts out ‘Climb every mountain’ in an effort to show Maria that sometimes you have to work really fucking hard for what you want, lol. You go, girl.

It’s sad when Liesl’s childhood beau Rolph has morphed into a fully-fledged-and-indoctrinated member of the Hitler Youth, and the scenes in the beautiful Abbey crypt are nail-bitingly tense.

I only saw this film properly, from beginning to end, for the first time yesterday, but it’s going on my Christmas to-watch-every-year list from now on. All together now: ‘Doe, a deer, a female deer, ray, a drop of golden sun…!’

The Von Trapp Children:

Liesl: Charmian Carr.

Friedrich: Nicholas Hammond.

Louisa: Heather Menzies.

Kurt: Duane Chase.

Brigitta: Angela Cartwright.

Marta: Debbie Turner.

Gretl: Kym Karath.

Did any of ’em grow up to have eating disorders or take their clothes off for nudie mags or porn flicks? Hang on, I’m looking ’em all up now…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

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